Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act
The title epitomizes the substance of the Act, which is to provide electronic signatures with the same legal status as a written signature. The Act (H.R. 1714), which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on November 9, 1999, imposes jurisdictional standardization for the usage of electronic signatures across the United States, paving the way for electronic transactions and the electronic transmittal of records.
The issue of electronic or digital signatures has been the subject of some controversy, and the 105th Congress considered several bills on the subject to no avail. (For a discussion of digital signature legislation in the 105th Congress, please see Congress Wades Into the Digital Signature Debate at http://www.llrx.com/congress/041598.htm.) The passage of H.R. 1714 was a hard won victory for the Republicans. The bill was first brought to the House floor on November 1, 1999 and was narrowly defeated when the Democrats objected to its lack of consumer protections.
Negotiations on the measure continued while the Democrats introduced a compromise bill, H.R. 3220, which eliminated the record keeping (or anti-consumer) provisions of H.R. 1714. The Administration supported H.R. 3220 and endorsed sending it to the floor as a substitute amendment to H.R. 1714. (Please see the Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 1714, dated November 8, 1999 at http://www.whitehouse.gov/OMB/legislative/sap/HR1714-r.html.) The bill was brought to the House floor for the second time on November 9, 1999 and the Democratic substitute (largely modeled on H.R. 3220) was defeated. H.R. 1714 passed with a notification of consent or "opt-in" amendment governing consumer consent to electronic transactions. (For the text of Rep. Bliley's, R-VA and Chairman of the committee on Commerce, November 9, 1999 floor statement on H.R. 1714, and for the text of H.R. 1714 as passed.